How to Help this Nesting Season

Nesting season for most Illinois wild bird species ranges from early March to the end of August. There is a surprising variety of strategies for nesting among different species. For example, Belted Kingfishers build nests up to 15 feet deep in riverbanks, while hummingbirds and Blue Jays go with the more typical route of weaving of twigs, bark, and leaves nestled in tree branches. Unfortunately, in residential or rural areas, certain strategies may put nests in danger of accidental destruction from everyday human activities. We’ve compiled some tips for the backyard conservationist to help protect these native birds while they raise their young.

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WMC Conservation Newsletter Spring 2018- Endangered Species of the Month

Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis)

By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters – Indiana bats
Uploaded by Dolovis

From US Fish and Wildlife Service: The Indiana bat was listed as endangered in 1967 due to episodes of people disturbing hibernating bats in caves during winter, resulting in the death of large numbers of bats. Indiana bats are vulnerable to disturbance because they hibernate in large numbers in only a few caves (the largest hibernation caves support from 20,000 to 50,000 bats). Other threats that have contributed to the Indiana bat’s decline include commercialization of caves, loss of summer habitat, pesticides, and other contaminants, and most recently, the disease White-Nose Syndrome.

Indiana bats are quite small, weighing only one-quarter of an ounce (about the weight of three pennies) although in flight they have a wingspan of 9 to 11 inches. Their fur is dark- brown to black. They hibernate during winter in caves or, occasionally, in abandoned mines. During summer they roost under the peeling bark of dead and dying trees. Indiana bats eat a variety of flying insects found along rivers or lakes and in uplands. Click here for more information on endangered species in Illinois.

Continue reading: WMC Conservation Newsletter March 2018

By: Kate Keets, WMC Conservation Chair, Class of 2021

WMC Conservation Newsletter Spring 2018- Invasive Species of the Month

What is an invasive species? According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, an invasive species is one that is not native to a particular ecosystem and that does or is likely to cause harm to the environment and/or the economy.

Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis) By en:User: Cburnett – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Cattle Egret is an invasive species of heron found in many parts of the world, including Illinois. Originally native to southern Spain and Portugal, in the early 19th century it began “one of the most rapid and wide-reaching natural expansions of any bird species”

It is speculated that the cattle egret first arrived in the Americas in 1877 after flying across the Atlantic Ocean, but it was not thought to be established there until 1930. They arrived in North America in 1941 and were bred in Florida beginning in 1953. They are now seen throughout the country from Florida to California. Also known as the cow crane, cow bird or cow heron, cattle egrets are in the habit of following cattle or other large animals and feeding on insects that are attracted to these animals. Although considered invasive in Illinois, they are not known to cause any significant ecological damage. They can, however, be a safety hazard at airports and spread disease.

Continue reading: WMC Conservation Newsletter March 2018

By: Kate Keets, WMC Conservation Chair, Class of 2021